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Approach

About MEC

We're a group of people (3.8 million members) who love to play outside.

Photo: Richard So

Welcome to our 2012 Accountability Report. Read more from our CEO and the Chair of MEC's Board of Directors

We exist to inspire and enable everyone to lead active outdoor lifestyles. As an outdoor retail co-operative, Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) makes and sells gear, clothing, and services to support our members in being active outdoors, at prices that don't break the budget. We do this in a way that does the least harm and the most good – environmentally, socially, and economically – today and in the future.

Our roots lie in the adventures of a few young climbers who, just over 40 years ago, decided to take matters into their own hands to bring quality outdoor gear to Canada to help their friends to be active outdoors – same as we are today.

Relative to some, we're a large retailer and brand but in reality we remain a relatively niche retailer in the larger sporting and leisure market. As such, it's an exciting and challenging time for us. We're seeing significant changes in our membership and recreation patterns, and an increase in urbanization. Technology is evolving rapidly, members are purchasing differently (online, mobile, and in-store), and the Canadian retail space is more competitive than ever. We're also seeing increased demands for sustainability leadership and transparency, within complex supply chain realities.

With an adventurous outdoor spirit in our DNA, we have invested deeply in expanded product and service offerings to members over the last several years, to be engaging, compelling and convenient – an outdoor retail cooperative that members are proud of and participate in.

Our Foundation

While being active outdoors is at our core, the foundation of our business model is based on the International Co-operative Alliance's seven principles. Our approach to business sustainability and responsibility is also guided by the Global Compact (adopted in 2006), and International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions.

Our Charter, Values, and Goals

We inspire and enable everyone to lead active outdoor lifestyles by providing equipment, clothing, services and expertise.

We're guided by our values: adventure, creativity, quality, integrity, leadership, co-operation, humanity, stewardship, and sustainability. Read our MEC Charter.
MEC has three visionary goals:

  1. Activity: Increase participation in activity and outdoor recreation in Canada
  2. Conservation: Support the creation and stewardship of parks and wild spaces, as well as front country and urban places, that have recreation and environmental value
  3. Marketplace: Foster change toward environmental, social, and economic sustainability in the marketplace

Our Stakeholders

We believe we have a responsibility to listen to and consider the concerns of people we affect, who affect us, or who need us to act. We're not always able to do what they want, but we give ideas a fair hearing.

Our primary stakeholders are members and employees. Other important stakeholders are suppliers (brand and wholesale), outdoor industry peers and retailers, advocacy and interest groups (outdoor recreation, conservation, environment and human rights), store neighbourhoods, co-operative associations and levels of government. These are the people or groups most affected by our actions, or who have the greatest potential to affect MEC. They were identified through an internal analysis process, in which we created a list of stakeholders, identified their issues and interests, and then mapped them by materiality to the organization.

We get feedback from members through surveys, in-store comments, and emails. Members express views on product quality, availability, fit, prices, and sustainability practices. Employees are also crucial to our success, and we engage with them on an ongoing basis: in person, on email, and through our Intranet and employee surveys.

Community and interest groups often come to us. They're interested in recreation access, environmental and conservation issues, and human rights. We also sit on numerous boards (e.g., the Outdoor Industry Association), participate in a range of groups and collaborations, and establish partnerships. Our outdoor retail peers and suppliers are in constant business contact. In addition, we create opportunities for input through issue-specific workshops and other channels. We focus on open, strong communication so we can be proactive, and support our business and the issues and people we care about.

We sought representatives from these stakeholder groups as part of an annual Stakeholder Panel to help us prioritize material issues and provide feedback on our new five-year integrated business and sustainability strategy (2013-17). We based our assessment of priority sustainability issues on the perspectives of these stakeholders.

Awards We've Received

In the past few years, we received a number of awards for our efforts to be a progressive and accountable organization. MEC was rated 6th overall (and 1st in retail) in the 2012 Best 50 Corporate Citizens by Corporate Knights. We were also ranked one of Canada's Top 100 Employers for 2011 and 2012, with distinctions as one of Canada's Greenest Employers, as well as Family Friendly Employers. And the Financial Post ranked us as a Top Ten Company to work for.